THE MANAGING director of a Swindon bus company has said he will continue to work towards delivering a quality service to his customers despite cutbacks.

Paul Jenkins, of Thamesdown Transport Ltd, was speaking a few days after some routes were cut and others were altered following a withdrawal of council funding.

He said many of the routes that were changed were not well used and not commercially viable.

Mr Jenkins said: “While it is true that from last weekend the network has been reduced a little in Swindon, I’m confident that we can continue to deliver a high quality of service on the remaining network.”

He was speaking after a recent survey by Passenger Focus found that 93 per cent of Thamesdown’s passengers were very or fairly satisfied with the service.

Mr Jenkins said: “We are very pleased. We think it endorses our own customer satisfaction survey and underlines that we are delivering a high quality bus service to the people of Swindon day in day out.” However the survey also found that 29 per cent of passengers were not satisfied with the value for money Thamesdown buses offered.

“We will obviously consider and reflect upon the comments the customers have made in the survey, but I think value for money probably depends on what we are comparing it to,” he said.

He added that if the government took away the Bus Service Operator’s Grant (BSOG), which gives bus companies a rebate on the fuel duty they spend, then fares could go up and more services could be cut.

“If the Government were to get rid of the BSOG, for Thamesdown that’s currently eight per cent of our revenue.

“We couldn’t hope to recover eight per cent purely from fare increases, particularly when Swindon is still in recession and people are travelling less.

“Unfortunately I think it would be some sort of mixture of fare increases but more likely those services that are least profitable would probably have to be cut.

“That’s not the scenario which we particularly look forward to.”

Thamesdown Transport Ltd is wholly owned by Swindon Borough Council but is a commercial business run at ‘arm’s length’ from the council.

The council has said it had to cut back on its transport budget as part of government cutbacks.

It has also said that pressure on funds has been increased by the concessionary bus fare scheme for the over-60s, which costs Swindon council between £300,000 and £400,000 a year.

Meanwhile, more than 600 signatures have been collected on a petition against changes to a bus route in Swindon.

Cindy Matthews, 63, of Tithe Barn Crescent in Okus, started the petition against cuts to the number 23 service from Stratton Park to Okus.

The 23 bus was altered at the weekend and now runs between Fleming Way, Walcot East, Coleview and Stratton Park and the number 22 has been re-routed to serve Okus and Old Town.

Mrs Matthews said: “There was no consultation, nobody knew anything.

“My neighbour came round and she didn’t know what she was going to do because she is elderly and widowed and she doesn’t have a car.

“Now we only have an hourly service and the last one to go into town leaves at 3.45pm.”

Anyone wanting to add their name to the petition can email or call 01793 644388.

The petition will eventually be handed in to the council and if there are enough signatures it will be debated at a council meeting as part of its new petition scheme.

Paul Jenkins, of Thamesdown Transport Ltd said average passenger numbers on the number 23 service from Stratton Park to Okus were about seven.